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A spiritual “aha” moment

DSC00480Summer wouldn’t be complete for me without a trip (or two) to the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. I love the waterfront cottages, the crystal clear water, and the warm breezes. And I love the drive there almost as much. The road weaves through rolling hills as it passes small towns, vineyards, and farms.

I was reminded of the beauty of the Finger Lakes when I picked up this month’s issue of Guideposts magazine.  In it was an article written by Pauline Weaver of Penn Yan, New York—a town in the heart of the region.

Unfortunately, Pauline wasn’t focused in the article on the beauty of her surroundings. Instead she described how she and her husband, Kenny, had struggled to make a go of their 120 acre dairy farm. Drought on their land had withered their crops and dried up their water supply. Sickness in their herd reduced the number of productive cows by close to half. A high bacteria count in the milk meant that Pauline and Kenny lost their contract to sell it.

Pauline also described how she and Kenny saw their situation very differently. Throughout it all, Kenny had kept a positive outlook. His faith was strong and he believed that God would bless their farm. Pauline thought Kenny could use a dose of realism.

Then in a flash of clarity Pauline saw her husband in a new light. Suddenly she saw his faith as a virtue, and as a result she had faith too—a faith that would sustain her in the months and years to come.

(Click here to read Pauline’s story of her spiritual “aha” moment.)

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A Big Bang! Penny has an epiphany.

Big Bang's Penny had a life-changing "aha" moment.The sitcom The Big Bang Theory is very popular with certain members of my family, namely my husband. (David worked for a while on the Caltech campus in Pasadena and appreciates geeky.)

David was catching up on reruns last week when he saw The Closure Alternative from last six. In this episode Penny (the aspiring actress, girlfriend of experimental physicist Leonard, and neighbor of theoretical physicist Sheldon) experienced an epiphany.

OK. I know that Penny is just a sitcom character. And I know that sitcom characters don’t have epiphanies, unless of course the writers write them into the script. That said, I found Penny’s realization insightful and thought you might too.

Penny had noticed the passion that her friends on the show felt for life — passion for television shows, for science, for technology. Penny wished she could experience the same enthusiasm in her life, but she couldn’t even muster enough excitement to go look for it.

Over dinner one evening, Penny explained to Leonard that she had experienced an epiphany. She realized that there was something that she was passionate about — her friends. “I’ve always had these plans. I’m going to be in movies and live this glamorous life and anything less than that wasn’t worth getting excited about,” she explained. But the insight delivered a new perspective. “I shouldn’t wait. I’ve got you. I’ve got Sheldon. These wonderful friends. My life is exciting right now.”

How true. How often do we lose sight of the excitement right in front of our noses because we’re so focused on something else somewhere else? I know I do. Thanks, Penny, for sharing your epiphany.

Can a tape measure spark a life-changing “aha” moment? Just ask Amy Boyle.

How a conversation sparked a life-changing aha moment for Amy Boyle

Photo by Alessandro Paiva

I remember as a kid playing with my dad’s retractable tape measure. I’d pull the tape all the way out, lock it into place, and then with a careful flick of my thumb release the lock and watch as the full length careened back inside the casing in no time flat.

For me a tape measure was a toy. For Amy Boyle, it was the catalyst for a life-changing “aha” moment, one that she would recall years later in a letter to the Edmonton Journal.

Life was nothing but problems stacked upon problems. At seventeen years old, Amy was certain of it.

One day she shared her troubles, all of them, with her dad’s business partner. “Life’s too short to have complaints and problems,” he told Amy and encouraged her to think about the people who hadn’t had the privilege of living long enough to experience life’s challenges.

Amy didn’t buy it. Instead, she asked for proof.

The man pointed to a retractable measuring tape. He told Amy to extend the tape its full length and then to lock it into place. He instructed her to find her age on the ruler and, then, to look down the length to 70″ or 75,” a person’s average life span.

In an emotional flash of clarity Amy got the message. “Ever since then I have never taken anything for granted,” she wrote.